Last year I was invited to perform two organ concerts in Wittenberg, Germany–one at the Schlosskirche and the second at the Stadtkirche– as part of the Luther Decade celebration. Discovering that the theme for the 2012 celebration was The Reformation and Music, I began planning the my concert programs to reflect that theme.
I thoroughly enjoy putting together themed programs. I feel an audience can relate to the music of an organ concert more easily if there is an overarching theme and not just a series of unrelated pieces. With that in mind, I decided to use the chorales and texts of Martin Luther as the basis for the concerts.
Jeannine at the Schlosskirche with the Ladegast organ in the background
Because the tower of the Schlosskirche is ringed with opening words of Luther’s most famous hymn, “Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott,” I decided to begin and end the concert at the Schlosskirche with organ arrangements of that chorale–the first a fanfare-like arrangement by Jan Bender and to conclude, the powerful arrangement by Max Reger. Completing the concert were contemporary settings of other Luther chorales.
Sauer Organ at Wittenberg’s Stadtkirche
The second concert of the week was performed at the Stadtkirche, the church where Luther often preached, was married, and his children were baptized. Playing the Sauer organ, I continued the theme of music based on Luther chorales with the “Fantasia super Komm Heiliger Geist” by JS Bach as the centerpiece. Chorale settings by other Baroque composers completed the program.
The thrill of performing settings of Luther’s chorales in the Schlosskirche and Stadtkirche during the Reformation and Music Year of the Luther Decade was enormous.
Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist
Wittenberg, Germany Market Square
We’re back to the city we loved two years ago!
Schlosskirche, Wittenberg, Germany
Our apartment at the Leucorea is perfect!
The Schlosskirche with it’s tower ringed with the words, “Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott,” is still as powerful as ever!
The uneven cobblestones take us back five centuries to the time of Luther!
The people are kind and generous!
The Eis Cafes are there for our daily Eis Kaffee fix! YUM!
Ahhhhhh………the glorious music city of Salzburg! What a perfect place to visit after the exciting work of bringing our Bach and Sons organ and media event to Ried, Austria. We took at two-day “vacation” and journeyed to Salzburg to take in the sights of this wonderful city and to be fed with the richness of music and art within its city walls.
Getreidestrasse in Salzburg, Austria
Our tremendous hosts, Hildegund and Gerhard Walterskirchen, provided a guest apartment, bus passes, maps, event suggestions, tasty meals, and lively conversation during our Salzburg Sojourn.
We walked the Getreidestrasse browsing the perfectly arranged shops, stopping for Eis Kaffee and tortes, and admiring the Salzburg Festival concert goers in gorgeous dirndls and snappy lederhosen. We trekked to the top of Hohensalzburg and enjoyed the view of the city below filled with church spires and domes and crooked narrow streets.
St. Peter’s Church, Salzburg, Austria
Sunday morning found us at the Petrikirche for morning mass. A superb choir and orchestra performed a Michael Haydn Mass as part of the service. I was moved to tears! It was so profoundly beautiful as the music and art and architecture became one celebrating the absolute glory of God!
Ahhhh…..Salzburg! Forever a beautiful memory!
As my husband’s grandson likes to say, ” I did it!” The narration, which I did in German — of the world premier of our Bach and Sons organ and media event in Ried, Austria on Friday evening, August 10th was a resounding success! The audience of German speaking Austrians understood every word of my story of Johann Sebastian Bach and his amazing family. I told the story through the voices of Johann Sebastian’s wives, Maria Barbara and Anna Magdalena; his daughter, Katharina Dorothea; and Sara Levy, a patron of the arts who collected and preserved much of the music of JS Bach.
Stadtpfarrkirche, Ried, Austria
It was a thrilling evening for us. The Stadtpfarrkirche in Ried, Austria is a stunning example of the high Baroque with a famous altar by the artist Schwanthaler, ornate decoration, and a fine organ by Mathis. It was a perfect place to share the music and story of Bach and his family.
The audience was in awe of what they saw and heard. They were captivated by being able to actually see me playing the organ. Few people ever see the organist in this church as the organ is high above the audience in a back balcony so this was a new experience for them. With live projection from three different cameras on me (feet, hands, and as narrator) interspersed with still photos and other video projected to a large screen in the front of the church, the audience in Ried experienced something totally new and unique.
The incredible organ music of JS Bach never fails to captivate an audience. From the first notes of the Toccata in d minor to the final notes of the great St. Anne Fugue, Bach’s music is always thrilling.
After months of preparation, it was such a joy to share Bach and Sons as the first concert of our 2012 European performance tour.